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Senate returns for second half of session

by State Sen. Dan Hegeman

Legislators has returned to Jefferson City after the end of the annual spring break. The break certainly appeared to help ease the tension that had slowed things down in the Senate over the last few weeks. Accordingly, the Senate is again working at its normal, deliberative pace.

The Senate took up several bills on the floor this week, including Senate Bill 698, legislation I’ve

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The real cost of college: Student loan debt

by Sen. Claire McCaskill

The average debt for a Missouri graduate of a four-year institution is more than $25,000. And nearly 60% of Missouri graduates are in debt. That amounts to more than 900,000 borrowers with outstanding federal student loans, owing a total of more than $24 billion.

This enormous debt burden on our students can put college wholly out of reach for kids from families that can’t afford it.

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Capitol Perspectives: The soul of the Senate

by Phill Brooks

In the last two weeks before their spring break, Missouri’s Senate has been plagued by a Democratic filibuster I suspect most Missourians would find tedious, boring and irrelevant to their lives. But at the heart of this grid lock is a challenge to an aspect of our government that goes back to ancient Rome.

Many of our founding fathers feared a pure democracy. To provide a protection

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Power to override political withholding

by State Rep. J. Eggleston

The one thing the state legislature is constitutionally obligated to do each year is to establish and pass a state budget. The budget uses smart, conservative estimations of income and then allots that income to the various departments, programs and initiatives of the state government for the good of the citizens.

Once passed, the budget is then given to the governor to implement. The governor,

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General Assembly reaches midpoint of session

by State Sen. Dan Hegeman

This week, the Missouri General Assembly is on legislative spring break, marking the midpoint of the 2016 legislative session.

During the first two months of session, the House and Senate have had extensive committee hearings and floor debate as we began tackling a number of bills. So far, the House and Senate have sent dozens of bills to the opposite chambers for further consideration. The

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Capitol Report: Religious freedom amendment sparks historic debate

by State Sen. Dan Hegeman

Most of the legislation we discuss during the public policy process is relatively non-controversial. They’re measures to change certain programs, or modify sections of law that receive broad support. Occasionally, though, there are bills or issues are naturally contentious and expose deep divisions amongst supporters and those in opposition.

When we tackle these bills, it can sometimes take several hours, even days, of debate to

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Capitol Report: To hemp or not to hemp

by State Rep. J. Eggleston

OK farmers and constituents, I need your input.  I have my opinions on the topic, but I would welcome the viewpoints of my NW Missouri neighbors on this matter.

Two bills in the legislature (HB2038 and SB584) would legalize the production of industrial hemp in Missouri.  I will offer some background on these bills, and then I would love to hear from our

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Graves presses DHS to enforce visa laws

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves has introduced legislation forcing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deport illegal immigrants living in America on expired visas. H.R. 4726, the Preventing Illegal Visa Overstays Act, will withhold pay for the Secretary of DHS until the Department enforces standing visa laws.

“This week we tragically saw what can happen when we fail to enforce immigration laws,” Rep. Graves said. “There are 12 million

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Capitol Perspectives: From Chaos to Order in Missouri’s Legislature

CapitolPerspectives_WPby Phill Brooks

In the first two months of Missouri’s General Assembly, there are signs of a return to a more orderly process in how lawmakers do their business.

There is an obvious change in the pattern of recent years for an increasing disregard of rules designed to assure an organized and predictable procedure. For example, the formal list of bills before each chamber, which are supposed to be considered

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